Many people have said I am very brave for speaking so openly and honestly about my mental health struggles. Believe me it has been hard to do, but I really do not see it in as brave at all, I see it as necessary – but thank you all the same for the support and encouragement!
In this day and age when there is so much stigma and taboo surrounding all mental health issues, I think it is more important than ever to speak about it openly, and make people aware of how many people are actually suffering in silence (it is around 1 in 4 people after all).
I have been amazed how in response to many of my posts, how many people have come forward privately to me saying, “yes I have struggled” or “I am struggling with what you are saying” or “I know someone who went through something so similar to you”. These are people who you would never have thought of, people who from the outside seem strong, confident and able to take on the world.
Before I went through all this I know I also was guilty of wearing that ‘mask’ to hide the true feelings I was feeling – it is just what are brought up to do. I had been hiding it for years. People feel fearful that even their closest friends will judge them, when this is not true at all. Those who really love you will be there by your side throughout the good and the bad.
I knew people in hospital who were so ashamed of where they were, they had told friends (and even family) that they were on holidays or courses as they were scared of their reaction. And it is only now, months later they feel that they have to tell them, but they are scared of what the reaction will be, making it even more anxiety provoking to tell them.
It was not until I was admitted into hospital that I realized how not alone I was. There were people just like me, from the same backgrounds and most of them too had been hiding their feelings away for years and years just like me, and now it was the time for them to dig up the past and find out why and what could have caused the problem.
These days everything has to be perfect and few like to admit if it is otherwise. However I feel in this day and age it is more important to speak about it, so that people suffering do not feel the shame associated with mental illness that I know many people do.
I know it does take a strong person to face up to what is going on so in that sense I suppose I am ‘brave’ but I shouldn’t be considered that. If I get one thing from this experience it would be that people be more open about their true feelings as that is the first step to beating the mental health stigma and to give hope to those struggling through.